Affero GPL. Badgeware?

Forrest J. Cavalier III mibsoft at
Thu Mar 21 06:22:09 UTC 2002

"Free Software Foundation Announces Support of the Affero General
Public License, the First Copyleft License for Web Services"

I think clause Affero GPL 2(d) provides for the propagation of
"badgeware", meaning that it obligates propagation of a brand
or mark.  The important bit is "you must not remove that facility."

I find that this 2(d) operates much differently than GPL 2(c).
GPL clause 2(c) obligates providing "a" run-time notice
under certain conditions.  In other words, 2(c) does not specify that a
_specific_ notice is to be preserved. In contrast, Affero 2(d) does.

How does this work in practice?  If there is a "download" graphic, I
think the only way to comply is that you keep the graphic.  If there
is a paragraph with superfluous marketing, you must keep paragraph.  This
lets the originator insert branding and propaganda, and forces it to be
propagated.  This is unnecessary.

I suggest that software freedom is preserved fully if you delete the
part of 2(d) I placed in brackets below.  I hold that that bracketed
text is an unnecessary compromise of freedom, serves no useful purpose
except to promote branding, and should be removed before this
license gets the full support of the Free Software Movement.

In making the deletion, some further adjustment may be necessary, so that
the important text "modified version of the Program or work based on the Program"

(the funny word spacing comes directly from the HTML.)

       * d) If the Program as you received
    it  is  intended     to  interact with users through a computer network
    and  if,  in  the version     you  received, any user interacting with the
    Program   was given the opportunity       to request transmission to that
    user of the  Program's  complete source   code,    you 

       [must not remove that
       facility from  your modified  version of  the Program    or work based on
       the Program, and] 

    must offer an  equivalent  opportunity for   all users
    interacting with your  Program through  a computer  network to request  
    immediate transmission  by HTTP of the complete  source  code of your modified
    version or other  derivative work.

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